Disentangling own: evidence from association with focus

Giorgos Spathas


The possessive marker own exhibits a complicated behavior that gives rise to a wide range of subtle meaning differences. Accordingly, the theoretical literature has proposed a number of different characterizations of this element. This paper uses (primarily) data from association with focus to disentangle the various effects that own gives rise to and argue that there are at least two distinct homophonous items; ownR, a reflexivizer that operates on a syntactically derived predicate, and ownPoss, a marker of strong/ inalienable possession. We provide a compositional analysis of examples with ownR that derives its distribution without the need to any item-specific principle of Binding Theory; obligatory reflexivization follows from the lexical semantics of ownR, and locality restrictions follow from independent restrictions on the formation of derived predicates in the syntax. We, thus, provide evidence for (i) the dissociation of reflexivization and locality, and (ii) the formation of complex predicates in the syntax.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3765/salt.v24i0.2374